Ramen is a meal particularly suited to colder months: steaming hot bowls of salty, fatty broth and toothsome noodles are a great complement to bundled sweaters and slushy streets; less fitted are the gut-busting bowls to springtime weather and wear. Fortunately, a new pop-up in Williamsburg is set to change all that, with the introduction of mazemen, a broth-free version that's lighter but no less satisfying.
Yuji Ramen is a new pop-up in the back of the garage-like Kinfolk Studios in Williamsburg, operating Thursday though Sunday from 7 p.m. to the wee hours. It's the brainchild of Yuji Haraguchi, a seafood supplier who told Time Out that he was sick of American ramen noodles losing their structural integrity by soaking in hot broth for too long. Mazeman ("mixed")-style noodles have been popular in Tokyo for a few years now, but haven't caught on in these parts until Haraguchi started whipping up bowls of the stuff, topped with whatever hyper-fresh seafood he has on hand that day. Recent catches have included jumbo, silky-smooth raw oysters, tiny, briny bits of bright-orange uni, and a meaty seared tuna steak (there are a few non-seafood options, too, like a slightly greasy bacon-and-egg mix).
The curly noodles are toothsome and firm, coated with a slippery mix of oil and tare, a concentrated, salty seasoning usually made from a combination of soy sauce, sake, bonito and seaweed. The seasoned noodles, served warm, would be good enough to eat on their own, but the unusual topping combinations really shine: salty uni is mixed with mint-like shiso leaf and finely sliced scallions; the spicy tuna is topped with crispy strands of fried chili and cool pickled cucumbers. Only a handful of options make it onto the oft-changing menu, and with prices falling between $7 and $12, repeat visits are highly advisable.
Yuji Ramen // Kinfolk Studios, 90 Wythe Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn // 646-262-1358 // Thurs-Sun 7p.m.-late // online